Royal Air Force Museum London
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|Established||15 November 1972|
|Public transit access||Colindale|
The Royal Air Force Museum London, commonly called the RAF Museum, is located on the former Hendon Aerodrome, with five major buildings and hangars dedicated to the history of aviation and the Royal Air Force. It is part of the Royal Air Force Museum, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Ministry of Defence and a registered charity.
The museum was officially opened at the Colindale (then part of Hendon) London site on 15 November 1972 by Queen Elizabeth II. The hangars housed 36 aircraft at opening. Over the years, the collection increased, and aircraft not on display at Hendon were stored or displayed at smaller local RAF station museums.
The first Director of the Museum was Dr John Tanner, who retired in 1987. In 1988, Dr Michael A. Fopp (who had previously directed the London Transport Museum) was appointed Director General of all three sites operated by the Museum. Retired Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye replaced Fopp as Director General on 9 June 2010. In October 2014, it was announced that Maggie Appleton was to be appointed as CEO of the museum. Appleton took up the new role in January 2015, a departure from the traditional role of Director General which was held by Peter Dye until his retirement in late 2014.
The Royal Air Force Museum London comprises five exhibition halls:
- Milestones of Flight
- The Bomber Hall
- Historic Hangars
- The Battle of Britain Hall
- The Grahame-White Factory
As of 2010, it had over 100 aircraft, including one of only two surviving Vickers Wellingtons left in the world and the Avro Lancaster S-Sugar, which flew 137 sorties. It also includes the only complete Hawker Typhoon and the only Boulton Paul Defiant in the world.
Recently added to the museum is a Consolidated B-24 Liberator, which was moved to Hendon from Cosford. It was presented to the museum by the Indian Air Force. In exchange, a Vickers Valiant was sent to Cosford to become part of the new Cold War exhibition. In 2009 the museum took delivery of a FE2b World War I bomber, which had been in production for the museum for over 18 years and is one of the few examples of this aircraft in the world.
There is a large car park at the site, and reasonable public transport links, with Colindale tube station about 600 m away.
The Battle of Britain Museum (later Hall) was opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in November 1978, the event attended by many former fighter pilots. Built on land donated by the MoD, the Battle of Britain Museum was funded by public subscription during the Battle of Britain Appeal Fund, which, in addition to many fund-raising activities, also included sales of a small pin badge, and a Hurricane aircraft wall plaque in a presentation case. The inner lid of the presentation case said:
'The Battle of Britain is the only battle in history to have been fought and won in the air, yet in this country, which it delivered from the threat of servitude, there is no national memorial to the victorious forces. As Winston Churchill recorded at the time ‘never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’, so in 1978, the Diamond Jubilee of the RAF, it has been decided to build a national Battle of Britain Museum on a superb site at Hendon.
The building itself must be distinguished enough to be worthy of commemorating such a feat of arms and large enough to accommodate the necessary collections and displays. The government has generously provided the Hendon site but, in the economic circumstances, has declined to meet any part of the capital cost. Since the Museum must be self-supporting, a Fund of £2 millions is necessary.
Displays in the new building will be created by the same team which has achieved such acclaim through its work for the Royal Air Force Museum, with which the Battle of Britain Museum will be integrated for administration and amenity services. The centre-piece will be a unique collection of British, German and Italian aircraft which were engaged in the battle… [these listed] Equipments, uniforms, medals, documents, relics, works of art and other memorabilia will be included.
The whole will be designed to constitute a permanent memorial to the men, women and machines involved in the great battle of 1940.
£1.7m was raised to pay for the new museum within a year. This created a dedicated museum hall in which a unique collection of aircraft were displayed, along with other objects and artefacts. In April 2009, work began on The Battle of Britain Hall to improve lighting conditions and provide full re-cladding to the exterior of the building. The new energy-saving lighting is cheaper to run, and colour and light intensity can be changed. It is less harmful to the exhibits because it does not emit UV light. The hall will also benefit from a new glass fascia overlooking the Sunderland flying boat making it viewable from outside and also providing natural daylight throughout the Sunderland Hall, a section within the Battle of Britain building. Works were completed in August 2009.
In 2010 the RAF Museum announced plans for a Battle of Britain Beacon, the intention being to house the collection, including the Dornier Do17 bomber raised from the Channel, in a new dedicated building. However, funding was not secured.
On 3 October 2016 the Battle of Britain Hall at Hendon was permanently closed after being in existence for some 38 years. The collection was dispersed, and the Battle of Britain will be presented across both the London and Cosford sites as part of other themed exhibitions within the RAF Centenary's celebrations.
Aircraft on display
Milestones of Flight
- BAe Harrier GR.3
- Bleriot XI
- de Havilland DH.60 Moth
- de Havilland Mosquito B.35
- Eurofighter Typhoon (prototype)
- Fokker DVII
- Gloster F.9/40
- Hawker Hart II
- Hawker Tempest V
- Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (display mockup)
- North American P-51D Mustang
- Percival Mew Gull
- Sikorsky R-4
- Sopwith Camel
- Messerschmitt Me 262A-2a Schwalbe
The Bomber Hall
- Airspeed Oxford I
- Avro Anson I
- Avro Lancaster B.I
- Avro Vulcan B.2
- Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress
- Consolidated B-24L Liberator
- Fairey Battle
- Focke Wulf Fw 190A-8/U-1
- Handley Page Halifax II (recovered wreck)
- Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer S.2B
- Heinkel He 162A-2
- North American TB-25J Mitchell
- Panavia Tornado GR.1A
- Percival Prentice
- Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2B
- Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2B
- Saunders-Roe Skeeter AOP.12
Battle of Britain Hall
- Bristol Blenheim IV not on display.
- Boulton Paul Defiant now in Cosford.
- de Havilland Tiger Moth not on display.
- CASA 1.131 Jungmann (Spanish Air Force - E-3B)
- Fiat CR.42 Falco now in Historic Hangars.
- Gloster Gladiator I now in Historic Hangars
- Hawker Hurricane I now in Historic Hangars.
- Heinkel He 111H-20 not on display.
- Junkers Ju 87G-2 not on display.
- Junkers Ju 88R-1 now in Cosford.
- Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3 now in Historic Hangars.
- Messerschmitt Bf 110G-2 not on display.
- Short Sunderland MR.5 not on display.
- Supermarine Seagull V not on display.
- Supermarine Spitfire I now in Historic Hangars.
- V1 Flying Bomb not on display.
- V-2 Rocket not on display.
- Westland Lysander III now in Cosford
The Grahame-White Factory
- Avro 504K
- Bleriot XXVII
- Bristol M.1c
- Caudron G.3
- Hanriot HD.1
- Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5A
- Sopwith 1½ Strutter
- Sopwith Dolphin
- Sopwith Pup
- Sopwith Tabloid
- Sopwith Triplane
- Vickers F.B.5
- Vickers Vimy
Engines on display
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to RAF Museum London.|
- Official website
- RAF Museum Photo website
- Royal Air Force website
- Photo galleries of aircraft at the RAF Museum and a virtual tour of RAF Cosford
- Images taken at RAF Museum London